Fung wan: Hung ba tin ha [The Storm Riders] (1998)

(On DVD, October 2002) Interesting: A rather cool Chinese fantasy film stuffed with fights and special effects. It’s a discovery of sorts for western viewers, as it presents more thrills and visuals than almost all of the American so-called “fantasy” epics of the last decade. Fans of period kung-fu films probably know what to expect, what with a feudal-era Chinese lord, his daughter (Shu Qi, very cute) and the young warriors vying for her affection. A lot of fighting ensues, but with the marvels of digital special effects, The Stormriders crams what looks like hundred of special effects in the various battle scenes. Jaded Special Effects addicts might want to check the film only for that reason. Alas, the direction is a bit too chaotic to be effective, seldom offering a coherent, sustained view of the action. But then again, the gonzo approach of some of these fights might be enough to tide you over a first viewing. The R1 DVD reviewed here sadly offers only an indifferent dubbed English version (sacrilege!) with neither an original Chinese audio track, nor even English subtitles (bastards!). Swordfights, cute Chinese girls, magic spells and tons of CGI… can it get any better? Golden Monkey says no!

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